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I-Team: State engineer rules against SNWA rural water pipeline

LAS VEGAS - The Southern Nevada Water Authority's plans to build a pipeline to pump water from rural Nevada to the Las Vegas valley has been hit with a near fatal blow following a ruling from the state's water engineer.

This ruling by the Nevada Division of Water Resources halts any efforts by the SNWA to siphon billions of gallons of groundwater from four Eastern Nevada basins to the Las Vegas area.

The water authority had planned to build a 250-mile pipeline to pump water from basins in Spring Valley, Cave Valley, Dry Lake Valley, and Delamar Valley at a cost of around $15 billion.

This is a legal battle that has been going on for decades.

The water authority spent $79 million on ranches in order to secure their water rights.

But environmentalists, farmers and ranchers already in those areas said all along the water was already being used up and the pipeline would suck the basins dry.

Hearings on those rights were held for a fourth time at the end of last year, after a court order.

Friday, the decision came down and state water officials denied all SNWA's rights in those four basins.

The water authority and state officials both say they plan to challenge the court ruling that led to this decision.

SNWA released the following statement:

"Today’s ruling by the Office of the Nevada State Engineer demonstrates the difficulty it faced in applying State Water Law while also complying with the Court’s contradictory remand order. The ruling serves as a prerequisite for the State Engineer to challenge aspects of the remand order and we look forward to these issues being resolved as the legal process moves forward in the District Court and the Nevada Supreme Court. The ruling makes clear that there is water available in these basins for appropriation but the State Engineer is prevented from doing so by the scope of the remand instructions, which impose unprecedented requirements into the science of water appropriation in Nevada. Southern Nevada, which is home to 73 percent of the population in the state, uses less than 5 percent of the state’s total available water supply."



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